Great Lakes Sprints Unofficial Season Opener Draws Massive Crowd Saturday
Barbaue, MI (Saturday, March 4, 2023) - For the second year the Great Lakes Super Sprints Presented by Engine Pro and ARP (GLSS) alongside the Great Lakes Lighting Sprints (GLLS) kicked off the 2023 season with a thrilling outreach to an intrigued crowd Saturday afternoon. Toeing the North American/Canadian border on the St. Mary’s River in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula, drivers, crews, and approximately 1,500 fans turned out for the St. Mary’s River Roar on the banks of the Cozy Corners.
Nearly half a dozen Great Lakes Lightning Sprint competitors turned out for a day of bringing awareness to what they do during the summer months, and to continue to grow the Sprints on ICE initiative in Michigan. Richard Clay, Bob Lennex, Bella, Lindsey, and Mack Erickson all unloaded and put on quite the performance around the beautifully groomed ice track on the river. Clay was the class of the field during the six-lap heat race, opening up a nearly full straightaway advantage over the field.
For the main event, Clay found himself facing engine issues, losing the number four cylinder on his no. 26 machine. Clay also had problems on the start, coming together with Bella Erickson on the opening lap going down the backstretch. The contact resulted in a broken top win support. All those variables didn’t keep Clay from the front of the field, but they did allow Mack Erickson to keep Clay in his sights. Despite his best efforts, Mack could do no more than pull alongside Clay, who went on to collect the feature win.
The Great Lakes Super Sprints Presented by Engine Pro and ARP were well represented this afternoon as well, with three former champions of the series on the property. 2018 GLSS champion, Dustin Daggett was on hand along with inaugural 2016 champion Chase Ridenour, and 2021 Champion Ryan Ruhl. Daggett was ready to race with his iconic blue no. 85 machine and he had competition with him as well in the likes of Middleton, New Hampshire’s Jacob Sanfracon.
Sanfracon is a regular with Sprints on ICE in New Hampshire, however, much like the Great Lakes ICE initiative, the abnormally warm winter weather melted away their season in 2022-2023. Sanfracon made the over 18-hour trip to the edge of the United States for a chance to tangle with one of Michigan’s best.
In the six-lap heat race that started the day, Sanfracon and Dagget waged an old-fashioned head-to-head war. The pair swapped the top spot three times, including slide jobs and crossovers. Sanfracon got the best of Daggett in the first duel, but both drivers went to work on their rides to try and improve their performance for the 10-lap main event. In the rematch, Daggett was able to control the start and didn’t let Sanfracon get out front. Daggett controlled the race and fended off a dive-bomb move in the final corner to pick up the win.
The next event for the Great Lakes Super Sprints Presented by Engine Pro and ARP is the double-header opening weekend on April 21st and 22nd from I-96 Speedway on Friday, and Crystal Motor Speedway on Saturday. The Great Lakes Lightning Sprints are expected to release their schedule in the coming days.
For more on the Great Lakes Family of Sprint Cars, including the GLSS, GLLS, and the non-wing Great Lakes Traditional Sprints, log onto www.GreatLakesSprints.com. Find and follow your favorite Sprint Car Tour on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
Story - Zach Hiser
Photo - Fan Posted Photo (Crystal Mikulka)